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One Hell Note of a Deal


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Thank You, Dave

 

For the fun contest, I don't know much about this area of notes so it peaked my interest. I'm not sure if I'm correct in this assuption, but are these the notes that are used at funerals in China/Asia as payment I guess to the ferryman or for use in the afterlife?

 

When you have a moment it would be great to hear a backgound around the history and traditions around these notes.

 

Thank you and Best Regards, Ray

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Hell bank notes are a special form of joss paper, an afterlife monetary paper offering used in traditional Chinese ancestor veneration, that can be printed in the style of western or Chinese paper bank notes.

 

In order to ensure that spirits have lots of good things in the afterlife, their relatives send them paper presents, and one of the things that are usually sent to ancestors are Hell Bank Notes – money to spend in the afterworld.

 

In some mythology, the Hell Bank Notes are sent by living relatives to dead ancestors to "bribe" the King of Hell for a shorter stay or to escape punishment, or for the ancestors to use themselves in spending lavish items in the afterlife. In these more modern times, the creation of Hell Bank Notes credit cards and checks have become very popular. They have hell passposts, airline tickets...and hell gold and silver bars.

 

Regardless of the presentation, Hell Bank Notes are well known for their outrageously large denominations, ranging from $10,000, $100,000, $1,000,000 or even $500,000,000. On every bill, it will usually feature an image of the Jade Emperor, and his Western signature (Yu Wong, or Yuk Wong) countersigned by Yanluo, King of Hell (Yen Loo). On the back of each bill, it features a portrait of the bank of Hell.

 

The name "hell"

 

In Chinese mythology, the name of hell does not carry a negative connotation. The hell they refer to is Di Yu "underground hold/court". Diyu is a maze of underground levels and chambers where souls are taken to atone for their earthly sins.

 

The popular story is that the word hell was introduced to China by Christian missionaries, who preached that all non-Christian Chinese people would "go to hell" when they died. As such, it was believed that the word "Hell" was the proper English term for the Chinese afterlife, and hence the word was adopted.

 

Furthermore, it is believed in Chinese mythology that all who die will automatically enter the underworld of Diyu to be judged before either being sent to heaven, to be punished in the underworld, or to be reincarnated. As such, the word "Hell" usually appears on these notes. However, some printed notes omit the word "hell" and sometimes will replace it with "heaven" or "paradise". These particular bills are usually found in joss packs meant to be burned for Chinese deities. They have the same design.

 

Some I picked up yesterday at the asian market:

 

hellnote.jpg

 

heavennote.jpg

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Thank You, Dave

 

For the fun contest, I don't know much about this area of notes so it peaked my interest. I'm not sure if I'm correct in this assuption, but are these the notes that are used at funerals in China/Asia as payment I guess to the ferryman or for use in the afterlife?

 

When you have a moment it would be great to hear a backgound around the history and traditions around these notes.

 

Thank you and Best Regards, Ray

 

 

 

You're very welcome! It was my pleasure, and I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

 

I would have to echo Drusus in his above statement as an explaination (a very nice explaination!). I have not heard of them ever used to pay a version of a Ferryman (or Charon). As I have found out, there are things other than money, credit cards, gold and silver bars to burn for the dearly departed to use in their afterlife. There are things made out of paper such as cars, boats, TV's, - and speaking of TV's, I was watching a "Lonely Planet" episode on TV (A travel guide) and the host went to a store and they had tons of pseudo-items to burn and offer to their long lost friends and family - even Lingerie! Makes one wonder about how good it just might be "over there".

 

As they say, you can't to take it with you, but you can at least have it sent along afterwards! So be nice to those you leave behind! :ninja:

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Although in Western eyes Hell Bank Notes may look like toys or superstitious items, there are considerations concerning the use of Hell Bank Notes that superstitious Chinese people take seriously.

 

It is not advised to give a Hell Bank Note to a living person as a gift (even as a joke); it is often considered as wishing the person's death - a grave insult to that person in Chinese tradition. Hell Bank Notes are usually kept places nobody can see (e.g. cupboards), as having these notes around in the house is considered bad luck.

 

:ninja:

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Although in Western eyes Hell Bank Notes may look like toys or superstitious items, there are considerations concerning the use of Hell Bank Notes that superstitious Chinese people take seriously.

 

It is not advised to give a Hell Bank Note to a living person as a gift (even as a joke); it is often considered as wishing the person's death - a grave insult to that person in Chinese tradition. Hell Bank Notes are usually kept places nobody can see (e.g. cupboards), as having these notes around in the house is considered bad luck.

 

:ninja:

 

 

 

Well, good thing we're not in China! And I certainly don't wish your deaths! Makes one wonder what the shops that sell them think about having them on the shelves. ;)

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I'm guessing that using these as a tip in my favorite Chinese resturant would be a no-no.

 

 

Only if you notice a sudden reduction in the number of stray animals in the neighborhood.........

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